We’ll find out a lot about the Los Angeles Clippers on their current Eastern Conference road trip. Maybe we already did. Blowing a 20-point first half lead and losing to Philadelphia in the first of five games was demoralizing, but the Clips regrouped on Monday staging an improbable comeback to beat Detroit 142-131 in overtime. The penultimate game on the trek has the Clips facing the NBA-best Boston Celtics, whom they beat by 20 points just a few weeks ago to stretch their winning streak in the series to three games covering the NBA betting line each time.
Los Angeles Clippers at Boston Celtics
Date and Time: Thursday, December 29, 2022, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Opening NBA Odds: OFF
Clippers at Celtics TV Coverage: NBA TV
The Clippers have been on a roll as a NBA spread pick with payouts in seven of their last nine games. Laying 6-points to the Pistons on Monday, the game appeared lost when LA trailed by 14 points with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. They rallied to tie the game with five seconds left then outscored Detroit 14-3 in OT covering the NBA betting line at BetRivers sportsbook. The Clips have won three straight over the Celtics, including a 113-93 decision a few weeks ago in LA. The Clips won outright as a 4-point dog improving to 3-0 ATS in the last three meetings.
In a matchup of Eastern Conference heavyweights on Christmas Day, the Celtics flexed their muscles in an impressive 139-118 win over Milwaukee. The Cs easily covered the 5.5-point line for their second straight win and payout. They had been in a little funk just before that, losing three straight on the parquet floor and five of six overall going 0-5-1 as a NBA point spread pick. They appear to be back on track following blowout wins over Minnesota and Milwaukee to regain the best record in the NBA. They also own the fifth-best cover rate in the Association with payouts in 58.8 percent of their games.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clips are packing a lot of games into a short time and their M.O. has been to give ailing stars Kawhi Leonard, John Wall and Paul George a breather every now and then. With this their third game in four days there’s a chance at least one of those players sits. It didn’t matter that the big guns weren’t on the floor for the final few minutes in Detroit. Tyronn Lue yanked his starters with the Clips behind 126-112. A lineup that consisted of Nicolas Batum and four reserves outscored Detroit 16-2 down the stretch with Terrance Mann draining the game-tying jumper. And with Leonard sitting out the Clips’ 128 points in regulation was a season-high.
With scorers like Leonard, George, Norman Powell and Marcus Morris, you’d expect the Clippers to be more explosive on offense. Monday’s outburst increased the season scoring average but they still rank near the bottom averaging fewer than 109 points. They’ve been able to maintain a winning record and avoid lengthy losing streaks with a defense that ranks in the top-5 in fewest points allowed and field goal percentage. LA held Boston to under 100 points in the earlier meeting, the first time the Celtics failed to score triple digits. The teams also cashed the UNDER in a second straight game.
During the course of a long season even the best teams experience streaks of poor play. What makes them good is their ability to snap out quickly. Losing games to the Clippers and Golden State on a recent road trip wasn’t the worst thing, but dropping two in a row to Orlando and a game to Indiana in the first three home contests following that trip was alarming. Losing five of six games including three straight at home when favored by at least nine points on the NBA betting line, the Celtics fell behind the Bucks for the best record in the league. Just like that, however, Boston regained its form with dominant victories over Minnesota and Milwaukee as a winning NBA odds pick.
It helps having talented players to break out of a slump and Jayson Tatum is one of the best. Among the league leaders in scoring, Tatum made a statement in the win over Milwaukee scoring 41 points on 14 of 22 shooting. It was the sixth time he scored at least 40 points in a game and the third time in his last five games. Jaylen Brown scored 36 points against the T-Wolves to stop the losing streak and chipped in 29 against the Bucks. Between them they average 57.5 points helping Boston lead the league in scoring average and cashing the OVER in 18 of 34 games as an NBA betting pick.
Bet Clippers at Celtics
There are a few things that make me think the Celtics have an edge in this matchup. They are playing at home where they’ve been good and they snapped out of their recent funk with a pair of impressive wins. And they’re catching the Clips playing a third game in four nights. When the teams met earlier this month both Tatum and Brown were silenced and doing that again isn’t going to be easy making the Celtics my NBA odds pick at Pointsbet sportsbook.
NBA Prediction: Boston Celtics / OVER